Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

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Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

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Category: Fantasy
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Olivia Tierney
Reviewed by Olivia Tierney
Summary: An intelligent and thrilling fantasy with writing that will enchant readers and transport you into an intricate and rich Chinese inspired world that you won't want to leave!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 400 Date: June 2020
Publisher: Titan Books (UK)
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1789094046

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Heroes cannot be forged without villains

Princess Hesina of the kingdom of Yan has never wanted the throne. Instead of craving power, she has always considered the crown her inescapable duty and shrank away from the responsibilities of being Queen. To her, it has always been a distant, faraway future. Until that is, it isn't. When her beloved father suddenly dies, she is thrust into ruling. But contrary to the official report, Hesina knows all is not as it seems, her father didn't die. He was murdered.

Determined to seek the truth and discover her father's killer, Princess Hesina will stop at nothing to find justice, even committing treason. Under the cover of darkness, her feet lead her to a soothsayer to learn what happened that day and who killed the King.

Her treason leads her to a convicted criminal with a treasury of secrets. But can she trust him? Can she trust anyone? As she becomes Queen, Hesina begins to realise just how unstable her kingdom is. With war brewing to the North, a people divided and cut throat politics threatening to tear her kingdom apart, Hesina does not know where and who to turn to. With the future of her kingdom at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father without causing the downfall of her kingdom?

Descendant of the Crane is a surprising novel in the best way possible. Throughout its 400 pages, it blends between genres. What initially begins as fantasy and murder mystery, transforms into a political thriller and coming of age story. With each chapter, the plot becomes grander with greater depth, and introduces more and more twists and turns. But it does so with sophistication, without overwhelming the reader, and each new element, each plot twist, is integrated into the story masterfully.

Besides the plot what makes Descendant of the Crane so impressive is the wide spectrum of themes explored in the novel. There are strong themes of family and religion, of romance and treachery, of secrets and politics, of magic and diplomacy, which weave together to create a story that intrigues and enchants.

I really enjoyed the rich history of the Kingdom of Yan and the intricate Chinese inspired world building. He writes so vividly that it is as if you are there, walking through her world side by side with her characters.

The protagonist, Hesina is one that you won't help but love. Despite at times being frustrating and sharp, readers will find themselves rooting for her throughout the novel because her heart never fails to be in the right place. She's imperfect and makes mistakes, and is all the more relatable for it. But she has a great, unwavering resilience that keeps you turning the pages to find out how her story progresses. But while Princess Hesina thoughts, as the novel's narrator, are an open book, all of the other characters are layered of mystery. As a result, every chapter keeps the reader guessing and each character leaves the reader wondering who exactly they really are and more importantly what their true intentions are. You simply cannot trust anyone and this constant level of mistrust is brilliantly orchestrated by He.

All in all, Descendant of the Crane contains gorgeous writing with sharp clever dialogue that makes you wish you had written the story yourself. It's a great fantasy to lose yourself in.

Many thanks to the publishers for providing the Bookbag with a copy to review!

With He's great storytelling that twists and turns in unexpected directions, and her wonderfully detailed description, Descendant of the Crane is a beautiful book that you will wish you could read again for the first time.

In terms of future reading, Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett is another phenomenal story set in an intricate world rife with magic and politics. The perfect read after Descendant of the Crane. You might also enjoy The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss.

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